Kansas Senate Passes Fetal Pain-Based Late Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 23, 2011   |   3:24PM   |   Topeka, KS

The Kansas state Senate quickly followed a committee vote and approved a bill banning late abortions based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children can feel pain beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee signed off on HB 2218, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, that bans abortions at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-conception) due to the scientific evidence that not only do unborn children feel pain, they feel it more acutely because pain “dampeners” do not fully develop until 40 weeks gestation, and later.

Today, the Senate approved the bill on a voice vote and, once the bill the House approved 91-30, is given final approval, it will go to pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback, who has promised to sign the measure into law. Republicans rejected weakening amendments from Sen. Marci Francisco, a Democrat.

During the debate, Sen. Terry Bruce, a Republican, confirmed there “is ample evidence to support the findings” that unborn children feel pain.

“This is something I consider barbarism,” Sen. Julia Lynn of Olathe said of late abortions, according to the Topeka Capital journal. “That’s the bottom line.”

Kansans for Life legislative director Kathry Ostrowski says “the human unborn child feels pain more acutely than any other age infant, child or adult because the biological development of pain suppressors does not mature until 40 weeks gestation.”

She said HB 2218 will “help the nationwide pro-life movement establish that, despite Roe v. Wade, the states have a compelling interest not only in protecting the life of the unborn but in protecting our society from further descending into the barbarism of permitting the intentional inflicting of abortion torture on tiny, pain-feeling humans.”

Before the House vote, a committee heard from pro-life pediatricians from Parsons and Topeka with phone-in advice from a Washington state maternal-infant specialist. Abortion supporters opposing HB 2218 testified as well but brought no intellectual firepower to counter the medical experts that had testified definitively for the pro-life side. The House Federal & State Affairs committee asked opponents if they had any scientific or medical information relevant to the bill. They had none, other than mentioning a 2005 discredited article.

Section 3 allows the induction of an abortion upon a woman when gestational age is 22 or more weeks if “in reasonable medical judgment” she has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

“This language is fully adequate to cover circumstances in which termination of a pregnancy is truly medically necessary,” Ostrowski said. “Other than a true maternal physical medical situation or life-threatening condition, HB 2218 will ban abortions after 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization). This will prevent abortions sought for the emotional or mental health of the mother, or for the severity of a fetal condition.” [related]

Ostrowski concluded: “Kansans are ashamed of the thousands of abortions that were done in Wichita using this “mental health loophole”–not to help save the mother’s life or prevent substantial, irreversible damage to her body.”

The Kansas Catholic Conference also supported the bill: “HB 2218 would prohibit abortions after twenty weeks, measured from conception, on the grounds that unborn children can feel pain at that time. These bills will help ensure that Kansas, once notorious for its anything-goes abortion policy, will be transformed into a national model for Pro-Life legislation.”